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« Ofgem's maths | Main | Smaller than we thought »
Tuesday
Jan242012

Green Alliance on AGW and Russell

Alice Bell has written a trailer for Brian Hoskins' lecture at Imperial last Monday - if everything goes technically to plan this should be available as a podcast shortly. The trailer includes Hoskins' recommendations for climate reading - at a newbie level.

Among the documents recommended by Hoskins is the Green Alliance's introduction to climatology, published last year. This was prepared by their own Rebecca Willis, with input from Hoskins and Simon Buckle of the Grantham Institute (the sciencey bit at Imperial, as opposed to the naked-green-activism bit at LSE), and Joanna Haigh of Imperial.

The paper starts with discussion of the rise in CO2 levels and then says this:

Increases in atmospheric GHGs have enhanced the natural greenhouse effect.[19] There is unequivocal evidence that warming is occurring.[20] The Earth’s global mean temperature has increased by 0.8˚C, with an uncertainty of plus or minus 0.2˚C and considerable year-to-year variability, since 1850.[21] This evidence has led scientists to conclude with a high level of certainty that human activities are having a significant effect on the Earth’s climate.[22] It is noteworthy that the 2010 review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by the InterAcademy Council made no criticism of the most recent and comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change provided by the IPCC Working Group I (see more on this below).

So CO2 is up. Temperatures are up. Therefore with a "high level of certainty", mankind is to blame.

Forgive me, but this is embarrassingly bad. Risible really. And this paper is being recommended by Brian Hoskins, knight of the realm and fellow of the Royal Society? Sheesh.

I also noted this bit about the Russell panel:

The Independent Climate Change Email Review, established by UEA, and chaired by Sir Muir Russell, looked at the work of the CRU scientists. It concluded that their rigour and honesty as scientists was not in doubt, and that their behaviour had not prejudiced the advice given to policy-makers, but that the scientists had failed to display a proper degree of openness.[4]

Now, having just written a book about the Climategate inquiries, I was surprised to read that CRU scientists' behaviour had "not prejudiced the advice given to policymakers". I seem to have missed something important (easily done since there is a lot of material to wade through on Russell). Can anyone point me to where Russell said this? The bit I remember about advice to policymakers was the WMO report (and by implication the IPCC TAR spaghetti graph) being found to be "misleading".

In closing, I note a couple of interesting biographical details. Firstly Simon Buckle is "policy director" at the Grantham Institute. From his webpage, he doesn't seem to write learned papers or supervise students to any great extent. I wonder what he actually does all day? Secondly, the report's author, Rebecca Willis, as well as working for the Green Alliance, is on the council of NERC, the UK's main funding body for the environmental sciences.

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Reader Comments (33)

Hang about ...

The ipcc only say the rise since about 1950.. is due to agw with 90% certainty

So half if that .8c rise since 1850.. is natural by the IPCC's reckoning

Jan 24, 2012 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Rebecca Willis was Johnathon Porritt's sidekick at the Sustainable Development Commission. She has a degree in Social and Political Sciences. She has never had a real job, just a succession of Government posts and QUANGOs. I think that says all you need to know about her ability to prepare the Green Alliance's introduction to climatology.

Jan 24, 2012 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

So CO2 is up. Temperatures are up. (*) Therefore with a "high level of certainty", mankind is to blame.

Replace "(*)" with "Then a miracle happens"

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

There they go again, sleight of hand.

The temp is 0.8 deg up on 1850 and so GHG are to blame.

Convenient isn't it that they forget that their blessed IPCC said all climate change prior to 1960-80 is natural.

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterGD

Paragraph 14 in the Final Report is
"In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of
advice given to policy makers."


It's interesting that Hoskins links to CA and WUWT, but regrettable he does not refer to BH or HSI.

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

And that the temperature rise has somehow stalled in the last 10 years despite continuing rises in GHGs. Therefore, with a high level of certainty, mankind has f*ck all to do with it. :-P

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

"their rigour and honesty as scientists was not in doubt"

If the report contains similar funnies, I'll need a girdle to read it, or I will certainly pop a rib!

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

[Wrong thread]

Jan 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

The proponents of CGW have as we all know, the support of all three political parties in the UK. This type of paper is IMO specifically designed to keep their supporters on message. It is nothing more than preaching to the converted.It is advocacy pure and simple. Look lads, the latest upto the minute paper says nothing has changed and we (you) are still on the right side.

Jan 24, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

As far as I can remember the IPCC said that only half of the rise in temperature between 1950 and the end of the 20th century was attributable to natural causes, therefore the human induced heating was around 0.25C. The CO2 levels in the atmosphere rose by about 50ppm during the period 1950 to 2000 to what extent this was all human induced, or part human induced I cannot say. However we had an increase of around O.25C as a result of a rise in CO2 concentrations of around 50ppm. Over the last 15 years we've had a further rise of around 25 - 30 ppm but the temperature has remainde pretty stable. In any other science alarm bells about the theory would be ringing now. Science is all about prediction and observation, so in climate science the tool off to their computers and observe the predicted temperature drop with the inclusion of aerosols in the data, so conclude it must be aerosols that are stopping the warming.

Jan 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

RE the update:

Thanks to PaulM in the comments for pointing me to the relevant section in the Russell report. I'm slightly confused by the contradiction between Russell's finding of "misleading" on the hide the decline graph and a clean bill of health on "prejudicing advice to policy makers".

Perhaps the misleading advice is what was wanted.

Jan 24, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

If you go to that NERC website via the link, you can read that I expect (95% likely - it's my post), the same people who write the IPCC reports wrote the opening page of that site. Apparently, just as the UNIPCC have SRES scenarios (or Special Report on Emissions Scenario scenarios!!!), NERC is a Council Council!!!! Don't these highly educated at taxpayers expence F*%kwits actually read what they write? I despair I really do, talk about dumbing down! I suggest the NERC should cease being a "Council" & become a "Department"!!!!!

Jan 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

The essence of the Green Alliance position is this:

This evidence [increases in atmospheric GHGs and an increase in mean temperatures] has led scientists to conclude with a high level of certainty that human activities are having a significant effect on the Earth’s climate.

As the Bish indicates, this is embarrassingly illogical. Moreover, it makes them vulnerable: if the correlation fails, the Alliance's position fails. And, as geronimo points out, it seems the correlation may indeed be failing. This chart (using NOAA data) brings that into sharp focus: it shows a greater mean temperature increase from 1912 to 1961 than from 1962 to 2011 - despite an increase in atmospheric CO2 that was four times smaller in the first 50 years than in the second.

Jan 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Your Grace

You mentioned your recent book on the Climategate inquiries.
But when I tried to buy it..on every site..
"This item is currently unavailable"
Is this a new from of marketing..?

[BH adds - it's not out yet. Finished bar the artwork though and needs to be reviewed]

Jan 24, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commentermike wiliams

"Increases in atmospheric GHGs have enhanced the natural greenhouse effect" - No Hot Spot, no enhanced greenhouse effect.

"There is unequivocal evidence that warming is occurring." - There has been no statistically significant warming since 1995.

" The Earth’s global mean temperature has increased by 0.8˚C, with an uncertainty of plus or minus 0.2˚C and considerable year-to-year variability, since 1850." - Yes, but atmospheric increases in global CO2 have only been measured since the 1950s, and over this intervening period there has been globally warm and cool phases.

"This evidence has led scientists to conclude with a high level of certainty that human activities are having a significant effect on the Earth’s climate."- Yes in public, but in private as Climategate has revealed there have been a lot of uncertainty expressed over AGW.

"It is noteworthy that the 2010 review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by the InterAcademy Council made no criticism of the most recent and comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change provided by the IPCC Working Group I" - Yes, but the IAC's remit was limited to the IPCC process. The IAC never addressed the validity of the science.

I'm sorry, but it is such gross misrepresentations that does so much damage to science and reinforces public perceptions that climate scientists are just tricksters.

Jan 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Just looked at the UAH data. It would appear that global temps have fallen off a cliff.

http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+002

It raises the question - has the planet really warmed or even cooled over the last few decades? Is it all just variability?

Jan 24, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Looking forward to reading the new book. The thought of it has brightened my day already.

Jan 24, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

"So CO2 is up. Temperatures are up. (*) Therefore with a "high level of certainty", mankind is to blame.

Replace "(*)" with "Then a miracle happens""

Rather replace with: "I am a Hippie_Leftist, and as per Heidegger {SRC Hicks (2004)}, one of THE most influential thinkers when it comes to what passes for foundational Hippie 'thinking', the following is self-evident:

2. Reason is subjective and impotent to reach truths about reality;
4. Logical contradiction is neither a sign of failure nor of anything particularly significant at all;
5. Feelings, especially morbid feelings of anxiety and dread, are a deeper guide than reason;"

People still, for some strange reason, refuse to UNDERSTAND just what Hippies really ARE...

Oh well, perhaps one day...

Jan 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commentercb

The Green Alliance paper is replete with references to the Royal Society's summary of the science dated September 2010. Its paragraph 38 states:

When only natural climate forcings are put into climate models, the models are incapable of reproducing the size of the observed increase in global-average surface temperatures over the past 50 years. However, when the models include estimates of forcings resulting from human activity, they can reproduce the increase.

In other words, the RS has adopted the IPCC's position and assumed that the temperature increase must result from human activity because they can't think of anything else. (It was this, I seem to remember, that persuaded the sainted Richard Attenborough of the validity of the AGW hypothesis.) However the IPCC's (and RS's) "past 50 years" were the last 50 of the twentieth century. If this is brought up to date and the 50 years ended 2011 are compared with those ended 1961 (see my post above), you find there was a greater mean temperature increase during the latter when the increase in atmospheric CO2 was considerably lower.

Hmm ... perhaps they've all overlooked something.

Jan 24, 2012 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Regarding the warming since 1850. As previously pointed out the IPCC has indicated that only the warming in the last 50 years is "greenhouse" warming. They also claim sulphate aerosols caused cooling during the 50's and 60's. So really, the "greenhouse" warming in question should be 1945ish to now or 0.2 +/- 0.2 C.

Jan 24, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

It's no more than a sermon to a declining congregation. Overall, I do detect the demon of doubt and despair starting to gnaw away at the CAGW faith. In the public firstly, in academia slightly, and even in the political redoubt cracks are showing. Whispering in the ranks. Morale is draining away. Stalled recruitment, rising desertion.

Jan 24, 2012 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Pharos

What you say is true, but religious beliefs such as these die slowly. It appears that there still are those in New Guinea waiting for DC-3s to return and drop goodies from the sky.

I can hardly wait to hear all the rationalizations once the date of the Mayan "end of the world" prediction comes and goes.

Jan 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

When only natural climate forcings are put into climate models, the models are incapable of reproducing the size of the observed increase in global-average surface temperatures over the past 50 years. However, when the models include estimates of forcings resulting from human activity, they can reproduce the increase.

What ARE they going to do when the temps start to obviously fall outside the confidence bounds of the models? Won't be long now. I'd repost the links to the met office graphs, but I don't want to seem tediously repetitive.

Jan 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

DPdlS,

"I can hardly wait to hear all the rationalizations once the date of the Mayan 'end of the world' prediction comes and goes."

Some say that it will happen before the predicted date, and will happen quite unexpec

Jan 24, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

James Evans:

What ARE they going to do when the temps start to obviously fall outside the confidence bounds of the models? Won't be long now.

They're already getting a bit hard to explain - link. (OK - I've posted this before. But sometimes it's useful to be repetitive: please repost those met office graphs.)

Jan 24, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin Guenier,

I think this one is from 2009:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/decadal-prediction
And I think this is from 2011:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/long-range/decadal-fc

Jan 24, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

"with a high degree of certainty", such equivocation!

At least Briffa and his correspondent Cook in their email were direct and to the point: "we can state with certainty that we know f....k all".

Briffa and Cook obviously know more about climate than Rebecca and they know how much they know and say it in plain English, "with certainty".

Jan 24, 2012 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterNik

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/college.asp?P=2615

Well climate changeis fashionable
Right from the the start it has always been about hard up scientices trying to wranggle out a bit of money

Jan 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJAMSPID

Your Eminence,

" Temperatures are up. Therefore with a "high level of certainty", mankind is to blame."

The sequence is: Temperatures are up so CO2 is up. Therefore with a "high level of certainty", mankind is not to blame.

Jan 25, 2012 at 1:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Jan 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Don Pablo de la Sierra
I can hardly wait to hear all the rationalizations once the date of the Mayan "end of the world" prediction comes and goes.
================

Like "The Team", the Mayan weren't very good at predictions; they failed to see their demise coming.

Jan 25, 2012 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Streetcred,

The Mayans' models told them that all was well. And the Mayans' models were able to reproduce the evolution of Mayan society "right up until yesterday." The phrase "right up until yesterday" was taken from a eminent climate scientist.

Jan 25, 2012 at 2:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Robin Guenier wrote:

quote
RS has adopted the IPCC's position and assumed that the temperature increase must result from human activity because they can't think of anything else.
unquote

While this should be surprising, when one remembers the programme with Sir Paul Nurse looking childishly pleased with a computer model that made swirls of cloud on a 3D Earth model (Ooooh! Shiney!) then perhaps it isn't.

While Sir David may have fallen for this, I am made of sterner stuff -- when someone says 'can't think of anything else' it's like a red rag to a bull. Hence my alternative explanations for warming and the light isotope signal.

Make that explanations: I can do four reasons for the light isotope, five if you count burning fossil fuels, and a couple for warming. Am I right? Who knows?

'Can't think of anything else' is more a reflection of poor imagination than a knock-down argument.

JF
(It's surfactant and oil pollution of the ocean surface, compounded with dissolved silica run-off from modern agriculture. I don't want a prize, thank you, just send truckloads of money.)

Jan 25, 2012 at 6:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

The Mayans had a "high degree of certainty."

Jan 25, 2012 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered Commenteredward getty

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